Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Today's movie was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, directed by John Huston in 1948. It sounds like an adventure movie (and we all know how I feel about those), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually depressing, to some extent, and not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be some sort of blah, Indiana Jones adventure or something, but I guess I should have known that Bogart was above that. It's gritty and dirty, and ends like some of my favorite movies - by proving that everything the main characters were doing was sort of pointless. Amazing.
The summary on IMDB is great, and I want to write about why I like the film and get to bed, so here it be: "Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled prospector named Howard and decide to join with him in search of gold in the wilds of central Mexico. Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but bandits, the elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster." Since I like the movie, I'm sure you can tell that it actually does turn into disaster.
I could not get over how awesome Bogart was in this movie. I'm a little (i.e. a lot) obsessed with him. He always plays pretty grizzled characters, but I've never seen him do anything quite like this. He was so dirty and covered in filth, with matted hair that Ebert points out is a wig. He steadily loses himself the entire film, eventually becoming, well, insane. It's really great to watch - he's an amazing actor, and I love that he took this role. Dobbs is a really interesting character - Ebert points out that we might pity him if he were not so undeserving of it. I like movies where you have more complicated feelings about the characters like this, and I feel like it makes the movie so much more interesting. It's not just black or white like a lot of other movies - I liked watching Bogart play Dobbs, and I did feel bad for him at times...until I remembered what he was capable of doing, and had done, earlier in the film.
I want to write about how I feel about the ending of the film, but I don't really want to spoil too much. Like most people, I like to watch movies where people go out and get what they want - I always root for the bank robbers, you know? Despite that, I like to see movies with characters that are hard to like, or where something goes wrong for them and they don't walk away successful. I wish I could say it's more rare to see films like that - I used to think so, but I feel like I've seen so many movies with endings that emphasize how pointless the action or adventure actually was that I don't know anymore! I'm not sure if this project is just full of movies with unconventional, weird endings, or if there are just more movies out there like that than I ever knew. Either way, I still have a weakness for those sort of movies.
I really need to get some rest, so I need to wrap this up. I really loved this movie - it was awesome to see Bogart bring out some crazy, and I loved that it wasn't the movie I was expecting to see at all. You really need to see this film, it's a great watch and well worth your time. Let me know if you check it out!
Have any thoughts on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Buy it on Amazon